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An Egyptian-German expedition discovered the first fully preserved zodiac on the ceiling of a temple in the city of Esna, which is located on the west bank of the Nile River, 55 kilometers south of Luxor, the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Monuments announced.

The colored reliefs have shone after five years of restoration work, during which a layer of dust and dirt was removed.

The relief contains the twelve zodiac signs and the planets Jupiter, Saturn and Mars.

Deities, animals and creatures with magical power such as a ram-headed snake and a crocodile-headed bird are depicted. 

A smiling sphinx was discovered in Egypt

"This is the first time we have seen these inscriptions and reliefs in the temple at Esna," said Dr. Hisham el Leyty, who led the restoration project on the Egyptian side.

According to him, such a discovery was not present in the publications of the French Egyptologist Serge Sonneron, who documented the reliefs in the temple in 1963 and 1975.

The zodiac is part of the astronomy of Ancient Babylon, which was most likely brought over by the Greeks who ruled Egypt in the last three centuries BC, said team leader Christian Leitz of the University of Tübingen, Germany. 

Despite the popularity of the zodiac in the distant past, its image is rare in ancient Egyptian temples.

Apart from the one at Esna, only the two zodiacs in the temple at Dendera (Dandara) are known, one of which was exported from Egypt and is in the Louvre in Paris.

The temple at Esna, dedicated to the fertility god Khnum, dates back to the Roman period.

Its construction began under Emperor Claudius, who ruled from 41 to 54, and its decoration was completed during the time of Decius Trajan, who occupied the throne from 249 to 251.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, the area around the temple was built up and inhabited, and the ancient building was even used as a cotton warehouse, BTA reported.

The project for its restoration began in 2018.

Egypt's first complete Zodiac was uncovered on the ceiling of the Temple of Esna in Luxor governorate during restoration work carried out by an Egyptian-German expedition:

— Talking Pyramids (@Bennu) March 19, 2023


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